[LIT] The BIG question - expert advice needed!

Heather Poland hpoland at gmail.com
Sat Aug 25 11:15:01 EDT 2007

See my responses below your below :)

On 7/23/07, Maggie Dillier <m.dillier at gmail.com> wrote:
> Alright, friends, here goes: I need help with my entire reading
> curriculum.
> I have asked for help with various details, but when it comes down to it,
> I
> really need an outline to plug those details into. I just finished my
> first
> year of teaching, and I can't bear to let down another group of kids when
> it
> come to reading. (Exaggerating; I think I'm an excellent teacher, but I
> hate
> those areas of weakness!) My school and district are VERY
> traditionally-oriented (book reports out the yang), so I feel isolated and
> need some help from teachers I actually admire!
> Please help. (By the way, I have read all the professional books you are
> going to recommend. I can't seem to integrate all their
> ideas satisfactorily.) Some of the issues I struggle with are:
>    1. *Teaching strategies (making connections, visualizing, etc.) versus
>    text structures (setting, character, etc.) versus genre*. Do you teach
>    all strategies early in the year and then literary elements later, or
> do you
>    mingle both? (Clarification: I can see the year being arranged like
>    this: "fiction, nonfiction, poetry, test prep..." or like this: "making
>    connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring...")

Both. Both are SO important! But I also teach structure as in, this is how a
newspaper article is set up, this is how a magazine article is set up, etc.
I usually teach that first, then go into text features and getting the big
idea from that, and then the running text. Therefore, I teach by genre. I've
always taught by genre and that is the only way that makes sense forme (I do
intermingle other genres for read alouds though)

   2. *Integrating test preparation for the big reading test*. See
>    previous posts. Do I teach a whole unit on test-taking, with test
> passages
>    and the whole deal, or do I teach the type of questions that will be
> asked
>    (compare and contrast, author's purpose, cause and effect) in another
>    context (i.e., guided reading)?

I like teaching the language of the test, and before the test having a mini
unit on practicing the questions. Teaching the language and the *types* of
questions that will be asked is very useful not only for the test, but other
things as well.

   3. *Aligning reading with writing topics*. When I'm teaching
>    nonfiction in writing, should I do nonfiction in reading at the same
> time?

This is what I do. They follow the structure that they've learned and write.
Makes sense!

   4. *Guided reading*. WHAT texts do you teach? Do you reinforce
>    whatever you taught in a minilesson, or is it a different focus
> entirely?

When I would do guided reading, it would be around whatever those specific
kids needed - whatever strategies they needed. So one group could be reading
expository and learning about text features. Another could be reading
narrative and learning about how dialgue works and how to track it.

   5. *Content-area reading*. Probably some of you don't teach all
>    subjects, but I do, and I wonder if I should teach reading the science
>    textbook in science or in reading. Is content-area reading a unit you
> teach?
>    Should I do it as part of guided reading instead of whole-class?

YES!YES!YES! I'm part of a grant that is getting all content area teachers
to teach  literacy skills. The intervention classes focus on that and have
been very successful! Kids need this!

It sounds like you have great ideas and are on the right track!!

Okay, that is it for now. I TOLD you it was the big question. For ease of
> responding, I have numbered each issue and you can jot some ideas for that
> number only when you reply! I am relying on your expertise, everyone!
> Thanks
> in advance.
> ~Maggie
> 5th/TX
> --
> Maggie Dillier
> "If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood
> and
> don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the
> endless immensity of the sea." (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
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- Heather

"The world of books is the most remarkable creation of
man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments
fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out;
new races build others. But in the world of books are
volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet
live on. Still young, still as fresh as the day they were
written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men
centuries dead." --Clarence Day

"While the rhetoric is highly effective, remarkably little
good evidence exists that there's any educational substance
behind the accountability and testing movement."
—Peter Sacks, Standardized Minds

"When our children fail competency tests the schools lose
funding. When our missiles fail tests, we increase
funding. "
—Dennis Kucinich, Democratic Presidential Candidate

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